Development & Climate Days: the history

Development & Climate Days is an annual gathering that links the issues of climate change and development, and promotes dialogue, information sharing and informal discussion alongside the United Nations climate change negotiations.

A group of people jumping in the air smiling, with their arms up.

The 2016 event in Marrakech, Morocco, saw sessions interrupted by a flash mob (Photo: Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Development & Climate (D&C) Days event is typically held each year in the middle weekend of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The UNFCCC binds almost 200 countries to tackle climate change. The COP is the supreme decision-making body of the convention, and all parties meet each year to review progress.

The 2023 event – a day of informal discussion and honest dialogue linking climate change and development – took place in Dubai on 7 December.

Development and Climate Days logo

Amid these formal negotiations, D&C Days provides an informal space for policymakers, scientists and development practitioners to come together to explore common concerns and discuss strategic action.

D&C Days are designed to:

  • Bring together practitioners, negotiators, scientists and policymakers to explore key issues related to adaptation to climate change in developing countries
  • Share best practices in development and climate change
  • Provide opportunities to disseminate scientific news, literature and reports, and
  • Promote linkages between development and climate.

D&C Days 20th anniversary report

In 2023, to mark the 20th anniversary of D&C Days, the event's organising partners commissioned a special stocktaking report to look at how the event has evolved, highlight how it has fed into international climate negotiations and explore new strategies for the future.

Over the years, thousands of people have been brought together to grow the adaptation and resilience space at the global climate negotiations, with adaptation having moved from the margins to the mainstream. The events have featured local voices and lived experience in discussions alongside decision makers, and built a strong community.

Among the key findings of the report were that D&C Days:

  • Provides a vital opportunity at COP for policymakers and stakeholders to have open and honest conversations about complex issues
  • Creates a multistakeholder space to explore the intersection of adaptation, resilience and development and the UNFCCC process
  • Delivers a consistent focus on the needs of people on the frontlines of climate change – a viewpoint which is often lacking in the official COP negotiations
  • Helps to influence the COP agenda by highlighting cross-cutting, leading-edge issues, and
  • Encourages participants to ask – and address – challenging questions about issues that may be sidelined in the formal discussions.

Read the report:


Origins of D&C Days

D&C Days were initiated by IIED's Saleemul Huq in 2002. The first event was titled Adaptation Day, and was held at COP8 in Delhi. The aim was to arrange an international event for people working on climate adaptation to enable them to share the latest developments.

In 2004, the programme expanded to include a 'Development Day'. Development practitioners had not previously attended the UN climate change negotiations, but their active engagement was seen as important for addressing the impacts of climate change on development.

In 2007, the event was renamed "Development and Climate Days" to reflect the fact that adaptation was becoming mainstreamed into the development agenda, and that good adaptation presupposes development. 2007 also saw the launch of a film festival featuring short films on climate and development. The film screenings are often attended by the film-makers giving a chance for the audience to ask questions. Subject categories included activism, animation, disaster, humour and participatory video.

D&C Days has been organised by a range of different partners over the years. The 2021 event was hosted by a partnership of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC), IIED, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)Global Resilience Partnership (GRP), the World Bank and Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance.

The 20th anniversary of D&C Days in 2023 was marked with the publication of a special stocktaking report. This examined how the event had evolved, highlighted how it had fed into international climate negotiations and explored new strategies for the future.

Just as plans were being finalised for the 2023 event came the heartbreaking news that the originator of D&C Days, Saleemul Huq, had suddenly died. Many tributes and obituaries included the role he had played in the formation of D&C Days, and many people reminisced about the impact he had on them after meeting and talking to him at previous events.

Photo gallery

D&C Days archive

The list below briefly summarises D&C Days over the years. Participants focused on developing key messages to be shared with target audiences, both during that year's UN climate negotiations and at future international forums. 

Click on each title to expand, and the links in the text provide access to reports and key information from each event.

Participants at D&C Days 2023 highlighted the need for creating equitable partnerships that challenge existing power dynamics, building accountability frameworks that empower local communities at the frontline of climate change, and strengthening climate finance to ensure it reaches the local level. Read the key messages.

The most recent COP marked 20 years of Development & Climate Days, and the organising partners decided to pause and reflect on the strength of the partnership over two decades to define how D&C Days would contribute to shape the climate landscape in the future. This culminated in the publication of a special stocktaking report.

While there wasn’t a traditional two-day D&C Days event at COP27, the partners worked with others to share expertise and lessons learned at the various side events, hubs and pavilions.

D&C Days took place from 9-10 November 2021 at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. Unlike previous years, this wasn't in the middle weekend of the UN climate summit.

The two-day digital event spanned multiple time zones and was the most inclusive D&C Days event yet. We brought together grassroots representatives, researchers, development practitioners and policymakers from across the world to discuss how to work together to build a climate-resilient future for all.

Read the 2021 key messages on five pathways for adaptation, resilience and action and you can also watch 24 recorded sessions from the event.

Although COP26 was postponed until 2021, the 18th annual D&C Days took place online on 2 and 3 December 2020. As part of the Understanding Risk Forum 2020 (UR2020), the world’s primary event bringing together experts and practitioners in the field of disaster risk assessment and risk communication, there were two days of discussion and dialogue.

Watch a recording of the session on how biodiversity loss is an underestimated risk, bringing perspectives from climate, development and business, and a recording of the session on managing risk through nature-based solutions.

The 2019 D&C Days focused on climate justice and key messages for climate negotiators.

Read the 2019 key messages: five pathways to a climate-resilient future and a report from the event by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. Saleemul Huq, director of ICCCAD and IIED senior fellow, also recorded a short video interview.

The 2018 D&C Days took place in Katowice, Poland on 8-9 December 2018, and agreed key messages that were shared with targeted audiences during the UN climate negotiations and at other international forums.

Read the D&C Days 2018 key messages (PDF) and a news story reporting on the closing plenary. You can also watch a video of the closing plenary, as the panel respond to questions from delegates and share their thoughts on climate resilience for all.

The 2017 D&C Days took place on 11-12 November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, alongside COP23. The event explored four key themes towards climate resilience for all.

IIED director Andrew Norton summed up day one (Facebook video), describing climate change as "the biggest social injustice of our generation", and there is also a video of the high-level closing panel that highlights the key messages and actions required to ensure that global ambition translates into local action. 

Illustrator Jorge Martin also produced a visualisation of the conversations that took place during the event.

The 2016 D&C Days conference focused on 'Global ambition. Local action. Climate resilience for all'. It looked at how the world could deliver on the ambition of the previous year's landmark Paris Agreement.

Among the key outputs were a video of the opening remarks by IIED's Clare Shakya, a call for an 'inside-out' climate summit by Saleemul Huq, a giant illustration of the discussions by artist Jorge Martin and a video interview with former Irish president Mary Robinson talking about climate action at D&C Days. A playlist of interviews with participants at D&C Days is also available.

The 2015 D&C Days event was themed 'tough talk on poverty and climate' and focused on the key transitions needed to tackle climate change and eradicate poverty by 2030.

More than 200 policymakers, scientists and development practitioners attended as the Least Developed Country experts raised their voices at COP21 and participants focused on the "bold action needed now".

Former Irish president Mary Robinson highlghted the global solidarity needed to confront the climate crisis, Helen Burley looked at what zero poverty, zero carbon actually means for our daily lives and there was a report of a session examining the future of food which offered participants sustainable snacks.

The D&C Days event at COP20 focused on 'zero-zero' within a generation: getting to zero extreme poverty by 2030 and zero net emissions by 2050. Participants explored ways to integrate targets on climate and poverty, how to influence the UNFCCC negotiations and ideas for measures that could produce zero-zero within a generation.

Read the key messages (PDF) and a blog by IIED director Camilla Toulmin on zero-zero, dolphins and conversations for change.

Other outputs from the event were a news story on the 'historic opportunity' to reduce poverty and emissions to zero; a blog competition on dealing with the impacts of climate change, won with a story of how extreme weather affects Mexican festivals; and a sound art competition that saw participants produce compositions that depicted rising sea levels.

The 2013 D&C Days had the theme "innovative approaches, incisive dialogue on climate-smart development". Day one focused on showcasing the experience of adaptation practitioners from the field. Day two focused on innovative game-based approaches for inciting action for climate change education, learning and capacity building.

Read the full report, while Mairi Dupar focuses on the power of games to get people thinking about their climate vulnerability in this blog. Mike Shanahan also writes about how participatory games can be used to unblock climate change negotiations.

2012 marked the 10th anniversary of D&C Days. Day one featured a 'speed-networking' session, followed by a 'D&C game' to encourage participants to think about the cost, value, and use of early warning information in development decisions. Day two focused on climate smart development and included a discussion on development and adaptation dilemmas.

Read the final report

The 2011 D&C Days focused on the lessons and challenges emerging from existing adaptation planning processes. Key topics were: improving evidence-based adaption decision-making, exploring issues of information needs and the challenges of robust evidence generation, through to information use and the politics of decision-making in practice.

Read the final report and watch a video interview with IIED senior fellow Saleemul Huq.

Ripples, a film about climate change and disaster management in Bangladesh, won the film competition.

D&C Days at COP16 looked at supporting the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge by practitioners and researchers from developing countries. The discussions focused on the challenges that developing country researchers face in funding research and publicising research findings.

The event highlighted the need to ensure that evidence from the global South is included in assessments of climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other organisations. It also raises questions about the norms of what is considered 'valid' knowledge to inform policy.

Read the final report

In recognition of the importance of the Copenhagen COP, the 2009 D&C Days ran for four days and featured more than 70 speakers. Approximately 800 participants attended. The programme was structured around four themes: land, water and natural resources; justice, ethics and humanitarian issues; planning adaptation; and trade, finance and the private sector.

Read the final report and a blog by Barbara Kiser about 'climate cosmology'. Kiser also wrote a report of the day four session on mitigation, finance and the private sector.

The 2008 D&C Days programme featured more than 30 speakers and included discussions on: vulnerable groups; gender and climate change; children; the Arctic and Small Island Developing States; rights and justice; policymaking in a changing climate; community-based adaptation; adaptation effectiveness; and adaptation funding. More than 300 delegates from 72 countries attended.

Read the final report and a blog by Barbara Kiser about attending the event.

The 2007 event was renamed Development and Climate Days. The programme on day one focused on disaster reduction and extreme events, cities and health. There was also a  panel discussion on financing adaptation. On day two, sessions focused on food and agriculture, community-based adaptation and energy. The event closed with a panel discussion on communicating for communities, across sectors and timescales. 

Read the final report

IIED's Saleemul Huq opened the 2006 D&C Days event by welcoming the large number of participants from the development community who were new to the climate change policy process.

Development Day focused on: energy and sustainable development; agriculture and food security; and water. Adaptation Day included sessions on: science, tools and adaptation; community-based adaptation; and experience with least developed countries' National Adaptation Programmes of Action.

Read the final report

Reports of early D&C Days are available on the IISD Reporting Services website or the IIED Publications Library, as follows: 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002